Vancouver Park Board Fences Off Sunset Beach, Shutting Down Annual 4/20 Cannabis Protest

The Vancouver Park Board shut down the annual 4/20 cannabis protest at Sunset Beach, citing public safety and unauthorized event concerns. This sparked criticism and raised questions about balancing cannabis laws and peaceful protests post-legalization.

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Vancouver Park Board Fences Off Sunset Beach, Shutting Down Annual 4/20 Cannabis Protest

Vancouver Park Board Fences Off Sunset Beach, Shutting Down Annual 4/20 Cannabis Protest

The Vancouver Park Board has taken measures to prevent the annual 4/20 cannabis protest and celebration at Sunset Beach, which typically attracts thousands of attendees. On April 20, 2024, the Park Board fenced off the beach area, effectively shutting down the event and leading to a smaller gathering at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

The Park Board cited the event as "unpermitted" and "unauthorized," calling it a threat to public safety and a cause of damage to the park grounds. They worked with the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) to close off the area and enforce laws around the sale and possession of cannabis. "The Vancouver Park Board and the Vancouver Police Department have taken measures to shut down the annual 4/20 cannabis protest and celebration at Sunset Beach," stated a VPD spokesperson. "We have fenced off Sunset Beach and Thornton Park, and have maintained a strong police presence to prevent the event from taking place."

At the smaller protest that formed outside the Vancouver Art Gallery, police issued fines and seized cannabis products from vendors who were selling without a license. The VPD had communicated to event organizers that while the right to gather and protest would be supported, they also needed to enforce applicable laws, including those prohibiting the unlicensed sale of cannabis.

Long-time 4/20 event organizer Dana Larsen criticized the actions of the Park Board and police, calling the move to shut down the event "pathetic." "The Vancouver Park Board fenced off Sunset Beach, preventing the annual 4/20 cannabis protest and celebration attended by thousands," Larsen said. "This led to a smaller gathering at the Vancouver Art Gallery, where police handed out fines and seized products from vendors. The Park Board cited the need to prevent damage to the ground and ensure public safety, but some attendees criticized the decision, saying it was a sad precedent and didn't make sense with cannabis being legalized."

Why this matters: The shutdown of Vancouver's 4/20 event at Sunset Beach marks a major shift in how the city is handling the annual cannabis protest and celebration. The move raises questions about the balance between upholding cannabis laws and allowing peaceful protests in public spaces following the legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada.

While the Vancouver Police generally refrained from confiscating cannabis products from 4/20 vendors in the years immediately following legalization, this year they took a harder stance by shutting down the Sunset Beach event entirely and seizing products from unlicensed sellers at the Art Gallery gathering. The Vancouver Park Board maintained that the 4/20 event was unauthorized and that fencing off the beach was necessary to prevent damage to the park and ensure public safety.

Key Takeaways

  • Vancouver Park Board fenced off Sunset Beach to shut down annual 4/20 cannabis event.
  • Police issued fines and seized cannabis products from unlicensed vendors at smaller protest.
  • Park Board cited event as "unpermitted" and a threat to public safety and park grounds.
  • Shutdown marks shift in how city handles 4/20 event after cannabis legalization in Canada.
  • Event organizer criticized the decision, calling it a "sad precedent" despite legalization.